Unrequited Love and the Need to Belong.
There is hardly anyone who hasn’t experienced rejection in unrequited or one-sided love at least once in life. At times we are not able to express our feelings, at times the feelings are rejected by the other person. In both cases, the lover is mostly left heart-broken, anxious and even depressed.
As I have written in my blog Benefits of Unrequited Love, unrequited love seems like the worst possible experience, with loneliness, self-doubt and heartache being the highlights of each day. It is devastating to have your heart call out to someone who is not even aware of your feelings, or worse, doesn’t feel the same. But hey! Stop before you think there is nothing that you can benefit from in this one-sided love. It can actually be good for you, even though you might not feel it right now.
There are many theories and counter-theories on this subject, as love forms an important part of our lives and is a much talked about subject. Some psychiatrist indicate that single-sided love does not last long and is soon forgotten when the lover finds some other source of love or something else to occupy his mind and fill his time. However, philosophers believe that it is indispensable to the lover and he would not give it up at any cost. These theories completely counter each other and yet we know that a lover might move on in life or accept rejection, but can never forget the loved one.
Rejection truly hurts, and it harms us not just emotionally but also mentally. There are some lesser known facts that explain different effects of rejection on our feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. We should start by analysing why rejection affects as much as it does.
Rejection and pain occupy the same space in our brain. Same part of the brain is triggered when we encounter rejection as when we encounter physical pain. This is the reason rejection affects so much (neurologically). Actually our brain reacts in the same way to rejection and physical pain. Tylenol decreases the painful effects of rejection. In a study testing the theory that rejection has an effect similar to physical agony, scientists gave a few members acetaminophen (Tylenol) before asking them to recall an experience of rejection. People who took Tylenol reported essentially less emotional pain than people who took a sugar pill.
Psychologists have done extensive studies and procedures effective at manipulating the sense of being accepted and rejected in human beings. I have written about this in detail in my blog Studying Rejection in Unrequited Love. The procedures show that most people assume intuitively that they would elicit strong emotional reactions upon rejection in love, but this did not happen. One reason for this could be that the rejection is sprung on the participant with little warning, during the study. Rejection can make people unhappy and distraught in various ways, but because emotions take time to build, they do not come right after the unexpected rejection. However, behaviour changes do show up immediately, implying that emotion is not required to produce the behavioural effects.
Rejection served an important role in Evolution. In our past, being outcast from our tribes was worse than death, as we were incapable of surviving alone. Psychologists say this led to our brains being programmed to send signals when there is a risk of rejection. Individuals who are capable of reading these signals sent by the brain, are more careful in their ways of life and avoid being in situations like unrequited love, in order to avoid rejection and the pain associated with it. On the other hand, those of us who are unable to understand these signals fall in love with someone who is eventually going to hurt us in the long run. People who are more capable of handling rejection are better social survivors than those who are not. Since it is important for humans to stand out enough to be noticed, individuals who let the pain of rejection in love affect them, find themselves fearing public eye and are less capable of being outstanding in most aspects of life. Rejection in unrequited love makes them scared of being socially outcast. This leads to the individual being depressed and not too confident in life. With lack of confidence, they in turn increase their chance for rejection in the future as well.
Being rejected in love makes us look down upon ourselves, and we start believing that there is something lacking in us. We start finding faults in ourselves, when we are already hurt and need support. While rejection is mostly a matter of choices and difference in lifestyles, we continue to torment ourselves over our shortcomings and make it even more difficult to overcome the pain of rejection. Don’t let this happen to you. Knowledge is power. Now that you know it, save yourself!
Keep me posted. I believe in your ability to find the right person to love! Sending light to you for a beautiful relationship.